Winter diving at Signy Island 1967

Gerry Pearce served an 18 months tour with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 1967-68. Born on the Isle of Wight, he moved to Surrey in 1962, to join the Police Service. Having previously been a sports diver, he became a police diver for 5 years then decided on a career move into full time diving. He answered a BAS advertisement for a diver to work with a marine zoologist, was interviewed and accepted as the Survey’s first professional diver. (Marine biologists had already been diving at Signy.) He sailed south on the MV Perla Dan, December 1966.

After a year at Signy, Gerry left the island onboard RRS John Biscoe with marine zoologist Martin White, to carry out comparative study dives at other locations on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands. These included BAS bases Adelaide, Argentine and Deception Islands, Hope Bay, Port Lockroy, Stonington and Grytviken, South Georgia, plus finally Port Stanley harbour.

Returning to UK, he continued in the diving field later to become Managing Director of UWI Ltd, a manufacturing and supply company for commercial and latterly, sports diving equipment. He returned to the Antarctic as a tourist in 2014 but this time sailing from Dunedin, New Zealand to the Ross Sea area, including a memorable visit to Scott’s Terra Nova expedition hut.

Through membership of the British Antarctic Survey Club and the Antarctic Club, Gerry maintained an active interest in all things Antarctic. The two clubs brought him into social contact with many Antarctic veterans, including Operation Tabarin personnel. Antarctic postal history was a natural offshoot from the interest in Antarctic expeditions and exploration and he joined the Polar Postal History Society of Great Britain in the early 1980s, later to become Secretary, Chairman and currently President